Westhoughton is a town and civil parish of the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton in Greater Manchester, England. It is five miles (8 km) southwest of Bolton and 15.5 miles (24.9 km) northwest of Manchester.

Historically a part of Lancashire, Westhoughton was once a centre for mining, cotton-spinning and textile manufacture. However, today it is predominantly a residential town with a total population of 23,056.

As well as the central town area, Westhoughton is made up of several "villages" which have their own distinctive character, sports traditions, amenities including railway stations, these include: Wingates (famous for its Wingates Brass Band), Whimberry Hill, Over Hulton, Four Gates (or locally Fourgates), Cooper Turning, Marsh Brook, Hilton House, Chequerbent (which was all but totally destroyed by the building of a motorway), Snydale, Hart Common, Daisy Hill and Dobb Brow.


The name Westhoughton is derived from the Old English words "halh" (dialectal "haugh") for a nook or corner of land, and "tun" for a farmstead or settlement - meaning a "westerly settlement in a corner of land".

The town has been spelt various ways, often the "West-" affix was omitted. In 1210 it was spelt as Halcton, 1240 as Westhalcton, 1292 as Westhalghton, 1302 as Westhalton, and in the 16th century as Westhaughton and Westhoughton. On some of the gravestones at Deane Church in Bolton, Wefthoughton appears as well from around 1650.

The people of Westhoughton are known as "Keawyeds" (cow heads) and the town is known as "Keawyed City". There are two local stories how this name came about. In one tells that in 1815 a celebration was held to mark the end of the Napoleonic Wars and that an ox's head was roasted, which was mounted on a pole and was fought over by two opposing factions in the town. The victors were dubbed "Keaw-Yeds". In another story tells that a farmer in Westhoughton found his cow had got its head stuck in a five barred gate (or fence), and rather than cut the gate, the farmer cut the cow's head off, since the cow cost less than the gate.

Civil War

During the English Civil War, a battle was fought on Westhoughton Common in 1642 between Lord Derby's forces on the one side and Parliamentarians on the other. Later in the war, it is believed that Prince Rupert of the Rhine gathered his troops in Westhoughton prior to the attack and ensuing massacre at Bolton in 1644.[6] The street of Whitsundale is the site of the Battle of Warcock Hill. Civil War activity is known to have occurred around the site of Hunger Hill. A sword from the time of the Civil War was discovered in the garden of one of the cottages at Pocket Nook in Chew Moor during the 1950s.


On the 25 March 1812 a group of Luddites torched a Westhoughton mill, owned by Wray & Duncroff, in one of the first major terrorist acts in Britain. Twelve people were arrested on the orders of William Hulton, the High Sheriff of Lancashire. Four of them, James Smith, Thomas Kerfoot, John (or Job) Fletcher and Abraham Charlston, were sentenced to death for taking part in the attack. The Charlston family claimed Abraham was only twelve years old but he was not reprieved. They were publicly hanged outside Lancaster Castle on the 13 June 1812. It was reported that Abraham cried for his mother on the scaffold. By this time however (contrary to popular belief) the hanging of those under 18 was rare and for those under 16 in practice abolished.Five others arrested were transported to Australia.

Coal mining

Westhoughton has the sad distinction of having had one of the worst coal-mining disasters in the United Kingdom. In December 1910, 344 men and boys lost their lives at the Pretoria Pit. The Pretoria Pit Disaster was the third worst in British mining history, after the 1866 Barnsley Oaks Disaster in Yorkshire (361 deaths), and the 1913 Senghenydd Colliery Disaster in Glamorgan (439 deaths).

Parish church

In 1870, St. Bartholomew's Parish Church was completed. Its beauty and grandeur was known both locally and nationally, especially for its elegant east window, which depicted the Twelve Apostles. On the Wednesday before Advent Sunday, 28 November 1990, the church was sadly gutted by fire, but luckily the church tower was saved.[17] St. Bartholomew's Parish Church.

A new church was designed by architects Dane, Ashworth & Cottam. Laing North West built the church with Bradshaw Gass & Hope as project managers and structural engineers, at an approximate cost of £1 million. The new church was consecrated on 28 October 1995. The procession led from the top of Wingates into the church grounds, ready for the Right Reverend Christopher Mayfield, Bishop of Manchester to enter and bless the doorway. Having a new church meant having a new organ. 'Nicholsons' of Malvern were brought in to build, erect and test a brand new 2 manual organ. There are 1,256 pipes ranging from 1/2 inch to 16 feet. They are constructed of tin, spotted metal and hammered lead.

Civic history

Until the 19th century, Westhoughton was a chapelry and township in the ecclesiastical parish of Deane, in the Salford hundred of Lancashire.

In 1837, Westhoughton joined with other townships (or civil parishes) in the area to form the Bolton Poor Law Union and took joint responsibility for the administration and funding of the Poor Law in that area.

In 1872, a Local Board of Health was established for the township, and was superseded in 1894 when Westhoughton became an Urban District of the administrative county of Lancashire. In 1898 most of Over Hulton became part of the Urban District. Under the Local Government Act 1972, Westhoughton Urban District was abolished in 1974 and its area became a civil parish of the newly created Metropolitan Borough of Bolton in Greater Manchester.

Today, Westhoughton has six councillors who are elected in two borough wards - Westhoughton North & Chew Moor ward and Westhoughton South ward - and they represent the area on the metropolitan borough council of Bolton.

Westhoughton civil parish, with town council status, has eighteen town councillors who are elected in six town council wards - Central, Chequerbent, Daisy Hill, Hoskers & Hart Common, White Horse, and Wingates. Each year, Westhoughton Town Council elects a Town Mayor who as the town's First Citizen represents at various functions and events. This year's mayor is Councillor David Chadwick. Chadwick has asked his daughter, Victoria, to serve as his mayoress in place of his wife, who 'prefers to keep behind the scenes.' Ms. Chadwick will be one of the youngest mayoresses in Britain.

Source: Wikipedia.org